Remote quiet self catering holiday cottage in Weardale Durham Dales Co Durham AONB North Pennines Geo Park

Situated 1400 feet up in the North Pennines AONB Beckleshele has played its part in Weardale's history.

In the 13th century the power of the Prince Bishops was absolute. They had their great hunting park between Eastgate and Westgate, they had begun the clearance of the forests in the Upperdale. They decided that it would be both advantageous and profitable to attempt to raise beef cattle. Most of the farms were in Lower Weardale but the cattle needed grazing during the summer months, hence the Upperdale having been cleared of its forests, became the site for this summer grazing.

Beckleshele is reputed to be highest known of these Norman summer hill farms and there has been a dwelling of some sort on this site since the mid 13th century.

In the 18th century Lead mining in Weardale grew rapidly with many mines sunk in the area, one of the most well known being Killhope Lead Mine.

Here again Beckleshele played its part as it became three leadminers' cottages with the inhabitants eeking out an existence by mining for lead just outside the property - the remains of which can still be seen in the form of Bell pits. These were a way of mining minerals which lie near the surface by sinking a vertical shaft. No supports were used and the minerals removed in a bucket via a winch ( similar to getting water from a well)

These pits had a short lifespan and often collapsed - the depressions left after collapse is what we now see on the landscape. As well as being miners these men would have also kept some animals probably for milk and meat. The animals would have occupied the ground floor with hay etc. above and the people on the top floor.

The Church Commissioners' who owned all the land eventually sold it to the Ministry of Agriculture who in turn sold to farming families and it is the Dalton family who have farmed here for several generations who have gradually sold off some of the properties on the land.

The cottage is now what was the barn on the eastern side of the building. Cattle dung several feet deep was dug out of what is now your bedrooms and bathrooms. We did most of the conversion ourselves and we hope we have achieved our aim of a quiet peaceful retreat in which to enjoy Weardale, one of the Durham Dales within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

If you wish to know more about the history of Weardale or your family comes from the area and you wish to do family history research then a visit to the Weardale Museum is a must.